If any of our family members land on this page, you are requested to take the things I have joked about lightly!
Good evening everyone.
There is a huge problem in being the youngest in a group of speakers. You have to speak at the end and by then the more accomplished, more experienced people have already set the bars high. So, please excuse me if my story does not sound as interesting or as eventful as you would be expecting by now.
Let me start by sharing with you a funny thing that happened just after my convocation at IIML. For those who are not aware, the sequence of events at IIMs typically is Final term exams, followed by placements, followed by declaration of results and convocation. Between the exams getting over and convocation, there is typically a gap of 25 days to a month. Since, I had opted out of placements, I decided to go home for this period because I was going to join my job rather early, almost immediately after the convocation. My parents were obviously not too comfortable about the entire idea of not taking up a job through placements and going for a God-knows-what-start-up. They were unhappy, but they had long known that they can’t force me into doing something I don’t want to do. There were those subtle hints about “are you sure?”, “may be you should go back and at least try out the placements” etc. etc. It didn’t work on me. But when we went to Lucknow for convocation, there was another story awaiting them. I had topped the batch. So, now you have a girl, who tops the batch – surprise number 1, who belongs to a small town in Bihar from an average middle class family – surprise number 2, who opts out of placements after going to a prestigious business school – surprise number 3 and who is going to start-up on her own – surprise number 4. Now that number 4 was an exaggeration that was circulated while I was sitting at home – I wasn’t starting on my own, I was merely joining another start-up at a fairly good salary – though not the best I could get from the placements. But now that the media had such a wonderful story, they weren’t going to listen to my minor disclaimers about one of their facts being wrong. The result was a lot of local media attention during the placements, which we weren’t aware of until we reached there and then before and during the convocation too. There were many more people from our batch who had opted out of placements, another one of them has been covered in this book too – so even the chief guest took note of it in his address, including a special mention for – yes you can guess it – the batch topper.
That was such a blessing I tell you. All the uncertainties, grudges etc. my parents had, were gone. They were very happy as they got congratulated from all corners during the convocation, they were being acknowledged by all other parents, faculty members and media. So, life was cool. My dad was elated and he called up one of his very good friends and colleagues trying to convey to him the same excitement that he was feeling. But he regretted trying to do that. All his friend was stuck on was where did she get placed, what is her salary package and those were obviously not great given the kind of news that the media circulates post MBA placements. So, what good was it being the batch topper? My dad got frustrated and disconnected the call. We took a train back the same night. And my dad’s phone rang at 6 in the morning. Everyone in the compartment got up. My dad picked up the phone embarrassed wondering what could be the matter. It turned out that some observant soul amongst the journalists had taken note of the town I belonged and faxed the news to their local news office. So the morning newspaper had a huge coverage of how a girl from that area had made it big in the outside world. Just like it happened with my parents, it happened with everyone else to. If it is in the papers, it must be something good. How many people getting good jobs get covered in the newspaper? So, the same person who wasn’t bothered a bit about my extra-ordinary deeds the evening before was so excited in the morning that he had called up at 6 am as soon as he picked up the paper at his home. “When are you coming back? We must meet and bless her. Poore shahar ka naam raushan kiya hai” and all that. Since then the phone rang non-stop, nobody in the compartment could go back to sleep and of course ever one knew that the IIML topper who has done something worth of being mentioned in the papers was traveling with them.
You might be wondering why I am telling you this story. It is not to brag about the local media attention I got at some point of time in my life. There are two reasons.
First is that I learned early on that God helps those who help themselves. Family and societal pressure is a major reason given by many aspiring entrepreneurs why they are unable to quit their comfortable jobs and follow their hearts. It was the same for me. It is true that I have been a bit of rebellion since childhood and do only what I want to. So, peer pressure never got the better of me. But somehow, nothing I had done before this had met parental disapproval for me. That was huge thing as a 23 year old student. Outsiders, I never cared, but parental disapproval was more unnerving that I ever admitted to them. But I still went ahead. I was prepared for several years of grudge and a “I told you so” attitude every time I am in some trouble, even though it would be heart-breaking. And then help came from a quarter I had never anticipated. All that media attention gave a blanket approval for several years for my unconventional choices. I became entrepreneur later on, by using the same blanket approval. Since then, we have learned some other tactic for prolonging that approval. For example, everytime either mine or Abhaya’s parents start wondering – me and Abhaya are co-founder and are also married now – so when they start getting edgy about how we are doing, we buy some household stuff like a sofa, a new mattress, some kitchen appliance to ensure them that we are not starving! We keep extending the blanket approval that way.
Similar things happen in the actual entrepreneurial journey too. I am not narrating individual stories from there, because those will include boring details of business. But it happens that you are struggling with a problem, getting frustrated at not finding a solution and then sometimes the solution comes from a quarter you would never have thought about. It does not happen all the time – but that’s the risk you got to take. So, over all its not that bad. Once you take the plunge, once you start trying to solve the problems, life keeps moving, you get some, if not all the solutions. So, if something non-essential is holding you back, just ignore it. Take the plunge.
Okay! Now let me come to the second reason why I narrated the story to you. It is to thank the authors and the publishers of the book. The first thing I did when the book became available was to ship copies to my parents, brother and in-laws. Even before getting a copy for myself. And now you know why I did that! Right – this extends our blanket approval period yet again. It must be something worthwhile we are doing, if it gets covered in a book. It’s even better than getting covered in papers. We can continue fooling around for a while more without our parents getting edgy. So, thanks a lot Amit, Amitabh and the entire publishing team. I am sure that the book will do lot more social good, especially with the proceeds going to the fund for social enterprises. But even if you consider the good you have done to us poor entrepreneurs by simply bringing out the book, it is tremendous. At least for me. Heartiest thanks and congratulations for the launch. Hope all the hard work feels worth it.
That is all I have to say for now. If there are any further curiosity about my or Pothi.com’s journey, please do check out our website, our company and personal blogs! We are shameless entrepreneurs. We will do our marketing at every possible opportunity.
That’s all. Thanks a lot everyone for patiently hearing me out.